Yes, it’s a bit of an oddity. It’s also part of why my release schedule is being delayed once more (other reason being that I was on vacation visiting family for much of June so my drafts fell behind).
If you’re active in the Daybreak discord, you might have seen some of my frustrations since posting the story to RoyalRoad. My stress levels have certainly shot up since May when I joined RR, as I’ve received a ton of angry if not hateful comments. The more egregious of this include the old accusation that Kaede is a “born slave with stockholm syndrome”, that Daybreak was a “slave fantasy” and a “bad BDSM story”.
So since June 1st, I’ve gone back to the start of Daybreak and started another major edit. The main goal was to make Kaede’s motivations more obvious, especially to these modern power-fantasy / wish-fulfillment isekai readers, that trying to land with two feet on another world isn’t mere cakewalk. This ‘rewrite’ has since been finished.
I think most of the older Daybreak readers already understood most of this. I’ll explain my intentions with some of the more notable changes I added down before. But first of all…
Note on Kaede’s Character
A hurdle I’ve always struggled with is readers’ expectations of Kaede. Simply put, the old “genderbender” headache is striking me yet again. Daybreak certainly isn’t written the way many genderbenders are. Nor is Kaede a typical boy, as even in flashbacks he complaints about the many unfair expectations leveled on him just because he was born male on Earth. However, to say that Kaede has gender dysphoria is also wrong. This leaves some readers who insist on putting Kaede into a trope, then complain when she doesn’t seem to fit in either.
To pull a new excerpt from changes in v1ch2, when Kaede first discovers her new body:
Is the universe playing a cruel joke on me or something? Kaede couldn’t help wonder. Is it because I complained too many times about all the unfair expectations placed on me just because I was born male?
Sure, Kaede had always been called a ‘sensitive boy’. He never really fit in with what society saw as ‘masculine culture’. However this was definitely NOT what he had asked for!
Some of the older readers here know how much I love to discuss psychology, or how much research I put into writing real-life psychological traits into the characters of Daybreak. Kaede is no exception to this.
Kaede is written as an individual with SPS (Sensory Processing Sensitivity), a term you’re unlikely to run across from just reading fiction as it’s a fairly new field of research. Coined by its pioneer, psychologist Elaine Aron, in the 1990s, SPS is a trait where someone have particularly strong sensory inputs compared to average people. Individuals with SPS (also known as HSP – Highly Sensitive Persons) typically exhibit high sensitivity, conscientiousness, and empathy, traits largely identified around the world as ‘feminine’. As a result, men with SPS often find themselves having difficulty matching society’s expectations towards them, as these traits are the polar opposite of stereotypical ‘male culture’. Kaede fits into neither gender neatly, and it’s the main topic of exploration for Daybreak’s genderbender tag.
Interestingly, the downsides of SPS also mark some of Kaede’s more notable character flaws, such as the fact she doesn’t deal well with surprises, how she’s prone to stressing out, or how she’s often indecisive and likes to push off hard decisions (i.e. procrastinate on them). It is easily the personality trait that most heavily influences Kaede’s personality, including her need to “emotionally self-regulate” and her dislike of crowded, noisy places.
Largely due to this trait of hers, Kaede has the personality of a Mediator (INFP), one of least common of the Myers-Briggs Personality Types, which is often so misunderstood that even the most highly regarded test site notes:
But because this personality type makes up such a small portion of the population, Mediators may sometimes feel lonely or invisible, adrift in a world that doesn’t seem to appreciate the traits that make them unique.
I guess even in writing Kaede, I feel some of this stress leaking through, as too many readers simply comments that she’s a “poor protagonist” because she’s not the action-y type who leaps face-first into fires without thinking things through.
Why does our modern society have such a preference again? I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand.
Major Rewrite Changes
In early v1ch3, when Kaede goes to the roof after her first night in the new world, I wanted to highlight early just why Kaede practices archery. Because too many people comes away with the idea that it’s just a “handy skill in a medieval world”. As some later chapter would note, ‘archery meditation’ is an important ritual for Kaede’s day-to-day life, and I wanted to show from the start that — yes, Kaede is written to be someone with high emotional intelligence and self-management skills.
Ever since she learned it years ago, Kaede had relied on meditation to help regulate her thoughts, her ‘mental hygiene’ as many called it. Yet now, it wasn’t working. She couldn’t enter the mindset, couldn’t detach herself from her negative emotions. She tried to actively focus on her movements or using the ‘box breathing’ technique. However that only served to remind her that this body wasn’t the same as before. None of the usual methods were working, as her maelstrom of concern and anxiety would not abate and would not let go.
Later in the same chapter, after beating up Pascal, I really wanted to stress just how unusual that was for Kaede. In fact, even some old Daybreak readers often comment this seemed a perfectly reasonable course of action. Reasonable in term of Kaede’s emotional state, I agree. However, one of the things I often dislike about pop culture media is it fails to highlight just how detrimental/disastrous such “cathartic outbursts” really are.
Kaede had always considered herself a levelheaded person, who used communication to solve problems rather than forceful action. After all, even professional crisis negotiators, who dealt with hostage-taking terrorists –the least reasonable people possible– still found that showing empathy and sincerity results in a five times higher rate of success as the application of brute force. Diplomacy was almost always the best option, while violence was the last resort of the incompetent.
Yet, what she had just done was the exact opposite of ‘being diplomatic’.
Kaede had no money, no property, not even a trade that could be practiced in this completely foreign world. With the arrival of winter just around the corner…
I’ll freeze or starve to death as a homeless girl!
Plus, even if Kaede could find shelter, what then? She was a girl now, and one of weak build at that. Even on modern Earth there were plenty of people who preyed on girls like her. If she didn’t be careful, she’d find herself being trafficked and sold off to a brothel!
Simiarly, in v1ch5, after Kaede met the headmaster and realized that she didn’t even have basic rights of ordinary citizens. This is a topic many older ‘travel to another world’ stories often tackle, that has been entirely disregarded in modern isekai:
In hindsight, she should have anticipated the news. Even on modern Earth, many illegal immigrants were denied their basic rights due to the fact they fell outside the legal system. Here in Hyperion, Kaede had no history, no identification, not even a hometown where she’d be recognized. It would not be an exaggeration to say that she could be ‘vanished’ and nobody would even miss her!
— Nobody except Pascal. The same man who had caused all of her misery was also the only person who stood up for her.
How am I supposed to even think about this!? Kaede found herself struggling to untangle it all.
I really hope some of these entries help future readers reflect upon just what it means to be “sent to another world”, something I feel like most modern isekais completely gloss over in favor of wish-fulfillment.
If you've enjoyed this update, please take a moment to vote for Daybreak on Hyperion at TopWebFiction. Aorii isn't good at self-promotion so every bit of your support helps.
Thank you \(•ᴗ•)/
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29 thoughts on “Daybreak Dev Diary: Rewriting a rewrite, unveiling Kaede in early story.”
Heh so protagonist is a fellow infp! Neat. No wonder I like this.
It’s quite a refreshing sight to see an author not lashing out at the audience or changing the purpose of events entirely because of the audiences admittedly poor conduct, misunderstandings and passing off of events without looking into them and seeing the true intent. I’ll admit were I an author and in your shoes I’d probably just tell them to piss of if they can’t see beyond that. Or perhaps I’ve spent too much time in certain circles to see this as the exception. In any case, Cheers! even as someone who read the originals and followed along these seem to me as very welcome additions, conveying more and perhaps more directly but certainly not simplifying to the detriment of the character.
I’m glad you concur with the additions ^o^
I always try to take critique seriously, because otherwise it’s too easy to bat legitimate critique aside. Of course the downside is that when people are being malicious it can really hurt >_<
As someone who was reading this on krytyks website back in 2017, I am so glad that you are back and even if it’s a rewrite I am thoroughly enjoying rereading (which I don’t often do). I was sad when I first learned that you had dropped this because I had fallen in love with kaede as a character as it is a VERY fresh concept for a protagonist in a very played out genre (of isekai). While I’m not sure what your reader base is, it seems like quite the loyal following, so as long as your core audience enjoys your story, don’t let randoms get under your skin and keep doing what you do. Thank you for writing one of the best pieces of modern fiction I have ever read.
Thank you. And welcome back. =)
I did lose quite a bit of the following between stopping and restarting but that’s largely expected ^^’
Still, the fact so many readers returned seems to note that this story made an impression on people.
You cannot please everyone. I think that your characters are well-written and their motivations make clear sense.
You’re doing a great job.
I thought there was some mind bending implications with the familiar spell, especially with Kaede serving as the first human familiar. The spell maybe subtly forcing (i.e. leaning on the decision scales) Kaede’s co-dependancy along with the PTSD from the battle at Nordkruz. Was this element of the spell going to be something to explore further when the Kaede’s world wasn’t on fire?
The following points I thought were clues that Aorii was leaving.
Pascal notes that the best familiars are the ones that are the most difficult at the beginning.
Is this due to the spell subtly convincing or persuading the familiars with the most independence and intelligence that they should show respect and follow the master? I thought something clicked at the end of the first volume where Kaede thought that she should be Pascal’s family. Most of the normal summoned familiars seem to finish with the bonding that afternoon.
Familiars are torn through space/dimension and are expected to serve as loyal companions and maybe adjuncts.
Why would a wild animal torn from a familiar place not go berserk and actually bond with the summoner? Does the spell look for compatible behavior or just a healthy specimen? It seems too reliable to have students expect to have nearly a 100% success rate and have random personalities.
Familiars don’t last that much longer than their summoner.
Is this due to the spell breaking and causing (meta) physical backlash or because the spell conditioning the familiar that the master is the most important person in the world and the familiar is dying due to heartbreak?
I’m probably reading a bit into the tea leaves here, but as magic, it can do whatever the author wants it to do. The only point to remember is that it’s jarring when magic a doesn’t do magic a later.
Well, the epilogue of vol1 also hinted that Pascal’s familiar spell was tampered with. But to answer your points
#1) Not really. As Pascal himself notes, the spell doesn’t enforce loyalty. It creates the mental/emotional links and relies on the master to ‘tame’ the familiar. Most animals are capable of creating emotional bonds with others and humans certainly so. What Kaede makes in the end of v1 is exactly that — she forms an emotional bond with Pascal, not in a literal/magical sense but a psychological sense. And that’s what allows her to finally accept her position.
#2) The idea for the familiar summoning spell is that it only pulls in an animal the summoner is capable of handling. It has built in safeties to ensure that any animal that would straight up reject the summoning wouldn’t be pulled in (i.e. phoenixes are obviously very picky), nor any animal that the summoner is simply incapable of handling. Think of it almost as a magical personality test being applied as part of the spell (xD). In the end though the familiar summoning is largely used as a premise plot device so, not something I’ve ever delved too deeply into lol.
#3) Yes. The idea is that the master-familiar bonds create such a strong link that the death of the master will create a powerful backlash upon the familiar. It’s especially notable when you remember that familiars literally receives mana from the master, which creates a dependency factor. The loss of a familiar can also impact the master but not nearly as strong given the rather one-sided relationship.
As many others have stated just wright what you wanna write. The story is has a more realistic protagonist in a more realistic world some people don’t understand that most problems can’t be killed. Hmm this made much more sense in my head.
Tldr: even if you right literal perfection a portey every character motivation perfectly people will still get upset because that’s what people do
lol that’s true. And if I go to great length to explain every character motivation that’d create pacing issues that’d annoy other readers xD
I just want to tell you something: you can’t please everyone, and that is coming from someone who is a mediator personality type 🙂 Those kind of comments are why I left Royal Road and in this aspect Scribble Hub as well. With those comments people bullied the authors to write what they want and as a result there were many “yuri-harem gender bent protagonist who destroy the whole universe because they are so strong because of reasons“ (of course there were exceptions and also really good yuri-ones) and the authors abandoned their work in a short bit. In general I saw a trend that if the authors disregarded all the hate directed to their works and just did their thing, after 15 chapters or so the most people would just accept the novel and move to another one to hate on. I want to say that your novel is one of the most relatable and thought out novels I have ever read, even better than many books. Therefore be proud for what you do and don’t let those overly offended people destroy the work you created for many years. They are not even worth a rewrite -.-
Thanks for the support ^^ now and for all the time you’ve left comments.
yeah the early chapters of Daybreak certainly does a lot in weeding out many of the typical wish-fulfillment readers, and I don’t mind that. I only mind it when they start making claims like “Kaede doesn’t behave like a real person”, because the topic of psychology is certainly one I take seriously.
Long time reader from the time you still share space on the translation website.
you would probably remember me as the guy who nitpicks like an amphetamine fueled chimp
I wouldn’t claim to represent the readership as a whole or anyone besides myself in fact.
But the story became increasingly harder for me to read every rewrite. not that the first incarnation of the story is the peak of writing or anything, but it just feels so awkward to read now. I can’t put a finger on why exactly, I just remember it flow much better on your original work. or maybe I am just growing old and can’t appreciate the nice things in life.
Besides, I am still visiting the site so you obviously doing something right.
so keep up the good work, try your best and all that jazz, I guess.
personally, I wouldn’t care about minority representation or righting social justice, just write the story you want to write, don’t worry about justifying yourself. But I am not the guy with readership in the thousands, so what do I know. cheer mate.
I do notice the older I get the more I feel the urge to incorporate explanations into it, attach and ground something more in reality. Maybe that’s not to your taste? (shrug).
Who said I feel the urge to represent minorities? =P I write about some of these character traits because either I have aspects of them myself, or because there are close people in my life that have them, hence I find them issues of interest.
What chapters did you rewrite this time?
I wouldnt worry too much about the people complaining about not having their usual OP protagonist striking out on their own. You cant please all of the people all of the time. I prefer the more realistic take of “Of shit Im alone in a strange land”.
largely focused on volume 1 chapters 2-5.
Oh I’ve long stopped trying to “please everyone” lol. These days I’m okay with “this is not your thing? okay, but just start attacking me with ‘it’s a hot pile of garbage’ just because”. Though even this is an impossible battle so… I just want a decent enough percentile~
Hmm SPS makes a l of sense and wasn’t something I’d clued into for Kaede. Definitely noticed something but wasn’t familiar enough with SPS to attribute it there. I like those changes
Kaede always has parsed to me as someone intensely uncomfortable with her situation but accepting that she has absolutely no power over it and must make do. That didn’t come up a head last version until, iirc the big battle where she makes use of her archery towards the end of that draft. Where she starts to have recognition separate from Pascel. And that story is just about to start in this draft of it follows the same path as the first write, where people really starts to treat her as a separate entity rather than an extension of pascel. She’s gaining that respect now from those who know her, and those who lead, but most folks don’t do that until what I mentioned happens later. In that same vein I do still feel that she… It’s a little too accepting? But not unreasonably so.
But I think that largely comes from the style choice to give a lot of internal thoughts but also be third person. We’re not totally in her head and knowing all her troubles all the time, but we’re also not totally removed, so we don’t have as much freedom of imagination for her emotional strife.
I do feel that while she is an integral character to this story, and so it is explored, but that the story is not centered around her emotional strife. Her struggle in this could be delved into like a Toni Morrison book, but this is not that story.
In a story like this, where each and every character has some aspect of them that could be turned into a first person internal struggle story, people will always want a deepening of particular stories that resonate with them. It’s why I always want more of Slyv 😉
Yeah the road for Kaede earning respect/status is certainly a long one, and imo a much more rewarding one than the quick-gratification we see in so many stories.
mmmh, good point on the 3rd person perspective. Honestly I mostly use it because I can’t actually do 1st person quite *that* well. Especially for someone like Kaede, a full 1st person would be extremely intense and beyond my ability to write drama. A “focused 3rd person” allows me to give access to thoughts without it dominating the narrative, and gives me the freedom to jump between characters as I choose which perspective is “more interesting” (to write about xD).
Have a nice holiday Aorii,
I got some niice quote in this novel, that would not found in many other web novel, i believe
read more nonfiction and you’ll get even more quotables~ =3
Honestly, I think this just means the stories gaining traction. You should be excited that you’re getting to RR’s rotten underbelly!
All seriousness though, stories like this need to leave a little room for interpretation. You don’t need to justify every controversial take in your fiction… Unless you want to of course. 😛
haha, one thing is for sure, Daybreak is still a long way from gaining the same audience it once had back in the day.
yeah some folks in discord warned me about spoon-feeding too many details. Though for early chapters, when readers don’t know the characters that well, more explanation certainly has its uses.
In case you want to gauge my interpretation:
Pascal and Kaede both recognize what is wrong about their relationship, and both have taken active steps to try and fix it. However, they also recognize the situation is currently beyond their control. I feel Stockholm would need a little more ill will, indifference, or even denial on Pascals part, and he hasn’t shown any of that. I can’t be bothered to look up an accurate definition of Stockholm Syndrome, but this falls under it, then its not that bad. :/
PS: RR’s full of slave fantasies, don’t know why they care now 😛
Maybe because there is no harem of slave girls fawning over the protagonist because he wasnt stereotypically evil to them???
I mean the part people don’t get about Stockholm (but why it’s rarely used right as a label) is that Stockholm Syndrome requires sustained ill treatment, long enough that the person acclimates and actually BEGINS to think of themselves as “deserving of being treated badly” (a self-protective mental adaptation). Then the ‘captor’ does a 180 switch, start treating them with some kindness, and suddenly it feels like they treat you *so well* they must deeply care for you, etc.
Yeah, Pascal doesn’t do any of that. He ends up realizing within a half day that he screwed up, and while he starts small he does begin changing his behavior.
There are so many shitty takes on RR. Even the most highly rated story in RR had received some shitty takes, you don’t need to really please them. They already have an image of what they prefer to see, when they don’t see it they complain. For some of them, even changing the way you write to suit them, they won’t understand. There are just some people who lacks reading comprehension and that’s something you can’t teach them as a writer.
I’ve been reading Daybreak since I was in college, during that time I was also in to those isekai based light novels/web novels. I consumed a lot of it, but most of it I didn’t bother reading till the end because they feel almost the same way. You read one novel and it feels like you read them all but Daybreak was different and a good kind of different. I feel that every text matters in Daybreak compared to some Japanese light/web novels I read where some or most text are there just to fill up the page quota, where you can read just the dialogues of each character and you understand 90% of the story.
Personally, I don’t really mind the slow uploads. I even think it’s faster than before. Back then in Krytyk’s website, I think Daybreak was a monthly upload comparing it to now which is almost weekly; it’s definitely faster though that maybe attributed to the rewrite.
Honestly I just want to read a story that I feel is good. I’ll even read a slave fantasy, stockholm syndrome, down syndrome or any syndromes with BDSM, NTR, CBT, BBC and any other acronyms you can think of in a single novel as long as I feel it’s good. If it’s good it’s good and I think Daybreak is good so I’ll keep reading/rereading it until it ends or until it gets bad (hopefully not).
Thanks for your kind words~!
There’s certainly an issue where many readers come into a novel expecting certain things due to the genre, and then when that doesn’t match up they get frustrated. Nevertheless this has always been an issue with writing (even in the days of Tolstoy and Cervantes deconstructing romantic fiction), so I do feel like highlighting this fact in early story is warranted.
Yeah Daybreak is currently being uploaded much faster than before, even this month, mostly due to the fact it’s still in rewrite phase and most of the content is old being reworked/recycled.
I certainly hope you’ll ring some alarms if you feel the story is turning bad xD
Dont stress about it. Kaede is still a born slave with stockholm syndrome, but its a good BDSM story.
I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic and trying to be funny or if you’re trying to annoy me =P